Research: School Choice
Nine Characteristics of High-Quality Schools
The State of Washington’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has done extensive research on the topic of high-quality schools. Their research staff has synthesized best practices on the topic, and has summarized the nine characteristics in an extensive document found on their website. This resource details the nine characteristics along with accompanying research from multiple entities, and provides other key resources and links. Read more on the OSPI website.

High-Performing, High-Poverty Schools: Research Review
The Center for Public Education is an initiative of the National School Boards Association. Its website contains valuable information and analysis about public education. The research in this review focuses on high-performing, high-poverty schools, and outlines five building blocks and five practices which are found in them. For high-poverty schools, this research is particularly invaluable. The five building blocks include a culture of high expectations and caring for students; a safe and disciplined environment; a principal who is a strong instructional leader; hard-working, committed and able teachers; and a curriculum focused on academic achievement that emphasizes basic skills in mathematics and literacy. The five principles found include increased instructional time; ongoing, diagnostic assessment; parents as partners in learning; professional development to improve student achievement; and collaboration among teachers and staff. Read more on the Center for Public Education website.

National Education Association: Strategies for Closing the Achievement Gap
The National Education Association (NEA) has long been aware of chronic achievement gaps that exist in our country. The publication C.A.R.E. – Strategies for Closing the Achievement Gap frames the topic with the acronym C.A.R.E.: Culture, Abilities, Resilience, and Effort.  This 164-page document offers key ideas, student activities, reflections, and resources related to closing achievement gaps. Read more on the NEA website.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills is a national organization that advocates for 21st century readiness for every student. As the United States continues to compete in a global economy that demands innovation, P21 and its members provide tools and resources to help the U.S. education system keep up by fusing the 3Rs and 4Cs (Critical thinking and problem solving, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity and innovation). While some leading districts and schools are already doing this, P21 advocates for local, state, and federal policies that support this approach for every school.

The P21 website offers a wide range of resources related to best practices for 21st century schools and education. Key links include the Framework for 21st Century Education, Framework Definitions, and Tools and Resources for Educators, Policymakers, and Parents and Community. These resources offer ideas and tool kits for helping parents and schools expand their thinking about what is important for student learning in today’s world. Visit the P21 website.

School Choice in Minnesota
Minnesota’s students and parents have school choice options in the State of Minnesota. While most students attend their home district school(s), approximately thirty percent of students access some form of school choice, including Open Enrollment, Charter Schools, Magnet Schools, Online Learning or State-Approved Alternative Programs. In addition, some parents choose to homeschool their children. The Minnesota Department of Education outlines numerous school choice options on its School and Enrollment webpage. Students and parents considering school choice options can get information from their local school districts or the Minnesota Department of Education at mde.school-choice@state.mn.us or 651-582-8572.